Western Route Of North-South Corridor: Azerbaijan Proposes Optimum Conditions For Fastest, Cheapest Cargo Flow


(MENAFN- Trend News Agency) BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 22. Transport routes passing through Azerbaijan at the moment are more attractive than ever before, as the country creates all conditions to ensure safe transit as soon as possible. Azerbaijan's modern transport infrastructure, both rail and automobile, and maritime, saves money and time. Not surprisingly, the volume of cargo transit through Azerbaijan in 2022 increased by more than 75 percent year-on-year.

However, Azerbaijan does not plan to stop there and takes measures to further increase its transport potential, given the growing demand for alternative routes.

Currently, the International North-South Transport Corridor is a hot topic on the global agenda. This corridor runs from Russia through Azerbaijan and from Iran to India. It is a mix of rail, road and sea transport aimed at optimizing trade between the start and end points of the route.

The North-South Corridor is a multimodal route with a length of 7,200 kilometers. This alternative route links Europe, the countries of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal. The Western and Eastern routes of the corridor pass through Iran: the Western route provides transportation through Iran by road through Rasht checkpoint, and the Eastern one – by rail. The final destination in Iran is the port of Bandar Abbas, from which goods can be delivered to India by sea. The Western route also passes through Azerbaijan, while the Eastern one – through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. In addition, direct sea transportation from Russia via the Caspian Sea to Iran is possible.

By 2030, the volume of cargo along the North-South Corridor is expected to almost double, from the current 17 million to 32 million tons per year.

Just yesterday, officials from Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan announced that a joint venture will be created between these countries. The purpose of this JV is to create a single logistics operator on the Eastern Route of the North-South Corridor.

The Eastern Route passes through the border between Iran and Turkmenistan – via Ak-Yayla or Sarakhs checkpoints. Hereby, the cargo is moved by rail to Kazakhstan, and then to Russia. The shortest option runs through the Ak-Yayla checkpoint.

The Ak-Yayla checkpoint, although, is considered to be shorter, it is still over 2,500 kilometers long. Thus, the route turns out to be less attractive, given that the ultimate goal is to reduce costs and transit time.

When a joint venture between Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is created, it will certainly contribute to reducing transportation costs and faster movement along the corridor. However, to establish such a structure it will obviously take a lot of time, since there are still bureaucratic barriers and red tape that will hold back the process.

At the same time, the 1,450-kilometers long Western Route is, perhaps, the most widely exploited and well-developed one. Even the statistics prove that, from January 1 through March 28, 2023, the volume of transit of goods along the Western route totaled 2.15 million tons, which is a staggering increase of 84.37 percent year-on-year (1.16 million tons transported in 2022). There is only one obstacle that delays the operation of the route at full capacity - 164-kilometers long Rasht-Astara railway line. However, the agreement between Iran and Russia on the construction of this line is expected to be signed by May 21, 2023. Thus, the Western Route of the North-South Corridor will become fully operational.

In the current complex, rapidly changing world, Azerbaijan, being on the crossroads between East and West, becomes more and more attractive destination. Since, beside the North-South Corridor, Azerbaijan has also boosted the transitional capacities of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, well-known as the Middle Corridor. Basically, Azerbaijan has provided incomparable conditions for the fastest, cheapest and most convenient transportation of goods. Due to enormous effort put in the modernization of transport and logistics infrastructure, the country will maintain its key transport role despite any regional or global geopolitical upheaval.

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